5 reasons to ditch the Mac and return to PCs: Debunked!

Robert Lemos at our sister publication CIO.com is making quite the little stir with his 5 reasons to ditch Mac and return to PCs. Without putting on my fanboy pro-wrestling mask, I am going to attempt to debunk his arguments one by one.

1. Productivity trumps religion

It's easy to fall in love with the aluminum cases used in Mac hardware and the slick interface design of the Mac OS X, Keanini said. Those are two reasons why more people are moving to Apple products: Apple announced that shipments of its personal computers grew by 44% in the first quarter of 2008, beating the 15% growth in PC shipments worldwide, according to market researcher IDC.

Yet, depending on how a company uses Macs, trying to integrate the computers into a company's workflow can kill productivity, Keanini said. The applications never quite match up, data has to be massaged to be useful, and the company has to design work-arounds for each issue, he said.

"My rule is to find the technology that makes your company most productive and be honest with yourself about it," he said. "Don't bring religion into it."

First of all, and this is a theme throughout the piece, the story is written from the point of view that you are starting from a PC environment. However the title is: Switch from Mac to PCs

Secondly, Macs are just as productive as PCs, oftentimes much more, if you consider the time it takes to run Spyware and Virus checks, having to OK every network transaction (on Vista) and waking up in the morning to find your PC has restarted to install an update.

If there is a reason Macs are less productive, maybe he could explain, rather than the generalization...

2. Work-arounds waste time

As soon as a company allows a different operating system onto workers' desks, employees have to start dealing with all the little problems that crop up. Calendar programs no longer sync with the rest of the company, and documents created in one office software suite have to be converted to another, usually Microsoft Office. If your company uses Microsoft Exchange, as Keanini's does, this adds another layer of problems.

"Everything is going to be a little bit different, and that little difference in everything eventually adds up," Keanini said.

One company engineer woke up Keanini the night before presentation slides were due for a conference, his voice cracking with stress, because his slides -- exported from Apple's Keynote presentation application to Microsoft PowerPoint -- looked nothing like they had on the Mac.

While such mistakes can be avoided, the effort required to keep the company's data working on two platforms eventually saps productivity gains, he said.

Again we are talking more about migrating to Mac rather than the reverse. For Powerpoint, if you want a perfect Powerpoint document, use Powerpoint for Mac. If you want an amazing multimedia presentation that blows awayanything your clients have ever seen, use Keynote. Because Powerpoint doesn't have all of the multimedia capabilities of Keynote, the "dumbing down" process will net some lost information.

As far as calendaring, Mac Calendar apps sync with the rest of the company just fine. If you use Exchange, Entourage 2008 does a great job. The learning curve for Outlook users is about 3 minutes. If you are using a standards compliant iCalendar server, iCal works great. If you are using a proprietary formatted calendar, your results may vary. Maybe a web interface is for you?

As far as little things, it has been my experience that the little things are advantages on the Mac. Apple does things that make your workflow easier. Things like Data Detectors make life easy in officeland.

3. It's hard to abandon favorite tools

You may become quite attached to a Windows application or two and decide that Apple doesn't have a comparable equivalent. Apple is well known for creating user-friendly applications, but for Keanini, Microsoft has a lead with at least one program: OneNote, which he uses for personal information management.

The application, originally created for Microsoft's tablet PC platform, allows the user to bring all sorts of data into a single notebook format. Also, OneNote does not have a Save dialog box, Keanini said. Microsoft recognizes that if a user enters data into his computer, he is going to want to save it.

Keanini finds himself using OneNote as an organizational hub for his day.

"It integrates so well from Office," Keanini said. "I can send mail from it, I can do To-Dos from it. Bottom line, does it make me more productive? Yes."

There are bound to be applications on both sides of the Mac/PC divide that people will miss. When I am on a PC, I really miss applications like Coda, NetNewsWire, Mail.app, iPhoto, iMovie, Final Cut Pro, etc, etc. Those are the breaks.

The thing is, when I am on a Mac and I need a PC program, I just install it in Parallels or VMWare (or Bootcamp or CrossOver) - it runs at native speed and in coherence mode, I forget that it is a PC application.

4. The Hotel California factor

"The designers of Mac -- again, this is their priesthood -- are not thinking about letting their users go," Keanini said. "It's like Hotel California: They are not expecting you to leave."

Companies that move over to the Mac OS X should expect to spend a lot of time converting data if they decide to move back to Windows, Keanini said.

The CTO said that moving all his data back to the Windows platform took more than week. Among the problems: Contacts and appointments exported from the Mac's applications had to be cleaned up, he said. Also, there's no simple way to get e-mail out of the Apple Mail application, he said.

"Today, companies need to be thinking about interoperability," he said. "It's the users' data, not the vendor's data."

This is the point that made me write this post....because it is just flat-out misinformation. Apple uses open standards for its office applications. Microsoft does not. The conversion process is difficult because of this, not the other way around. Mail? iMAP. Calendaring? iCalendar format.

Getting data out of Mail.app? Hook it up to an IMAP Server (GMAIL?) and upload the data. Then download it with Outlook. Or export the data to a file and import it on a PC in mbox format. This is absurdly easy.

I wonder what method the CTO of nCircle tried that he was unable to move data?

5. You may feel the heat, literally

Aluminum cases make MacBook Pro laptops, like the one Keanini chose, very sleek. But, Keanini said, the focus on design overlooked the fact that the computers throw off a lot of heat; so much so that he found he could not use the computer on his lap.

"The religion made me blind," he said. "I was bringing [the MacBook] on business but leaving it in the hotel room."

Moreover, the heat causes another problem, he said: The computers' lithium-ion batteries tend to have a shorter life span when they run hot. Having to replace the batteries on the laptops more often hit the IT budget bottom line, he said.

Now, the executive runs a Lenovo ThinkPad. "It's a monster, but it runs cool and it's very fast," Keanini said.

Is this really an arguement? - one of the 5 reasons to migrate from Mac to PC? What year is this? Older MacBook Pros did run hot (I still use one) in their first iteration. About two years ago they stopped running as hot. On the flip side, the aluminum helps disperse the heat better than the plastic of most PCs, so fans don't come on as often. The batteries on MacBook Pros hold their own against most PC laptops, even when hot. Non-issue.

This type of list is the product of a bygone era. Misconceptions that have been proven false for years or nitpicking a flaw of past hardware aren't going to help anyone make a good business decision.

Perhaps arguing something like "no built-in 3G wireless on Apple products" would be more "modern".

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